Sussex 200 and 124 for 1 (Montgomerie 49*, Goodwin 43*) trail MCC 539 for 8 dec (Foster 110*, Bell 88) by 215 runs

At a time when the England wicketkeeping role is the hottest of topics, James Foster chose an appropriate moment to register his highest first-class score, as MCC gave the County Champions, Sussex, a torrid time on the third day of the season curtain-raiser at Lord's.

Foster, who took over the gloves from Alec Stewart in India and New Zealand in 2001-02, and again at Melbourne last winter, finished unbeaten on 110 as MCC's lower-order extended their lead over Sussex to a whopping 339. He then teamed up with another England fringe player, Kent's Martin Saggers, to remove Ian Ward for 23 in Sussex's second innings. But by the close, Richard Montgomerie and Murray Goodwin had eased Sussex along to 124 for 1, leaving them needing another 215 runs on the final day to avoid an innings defeat.

Foster's century was the only one of MCC's innings, but there were two other eyecatching performances from young English hopefuls. After Ian Bell's classy 88 on the second day, it was Alex Gidman's turn to make himself noticed. In his first outing since breaking his hand on the England A tour to India, Gidman converted his overnight 42 into a fine 91, batting all through the morning session to add 122 for the sixth wicket with Foster.

He needed a spot of luck when he was dropped by Mohammad Akram on 66, but with his second first-class century beckoning, Gidman fell straight after lunch to the wiles of Pakistan's Mushtaq Ahmed, trapped lbw by a well-disguised googly (376 for 6). Mushtaq quickly followed up with the wicket of Graham Napier (382 for 7), but James Tredwell - who inherited the England A captaincy from Gidman - proved a tricky proposition for the Sussex bowlers. He contributed a brisk 40, and Adam Harrison added 34, as MCC took the game far beyond Sussex's reach.